The measures announced in Washington D.C nearly two weeks ago by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are to remain in place until April 19
Following discussions with the National Public Health Emergency Team and a subsequent cabinet meeting, new measures have been introduced to tackle the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the country.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made the announcement today during a press conference at government buildings. He called the developments "unprecedented measures for unprecedented times”.
To slow the spread of the virus the government has advised citizens to stay at home if at all possible and to only leave home to go to work (if you can't work from home), to purchase vital supplies, to exercise or for medical and dental appointments. Outdoor gatherings are to be limited to four people – unless from the same household.
The Taoiseach also advised that no unnecessary travel should take place in the country or overseas.
All non-essential retail outlets are to close, while all cafés and restaurants can remain open for collection and delivery only. Hotels can remain open but must limit use to non-social and non-tourist reasons. All theatres, gyms, hairdressers, libraries, casinos and bingo halls are also to close. Sporting events – including those behind closed doors – are to cease. Factories and building sites are not required to close.
Schools, colleges, universities, and childcare facilities are to remain closed until April 19. The Leaving Cert and Junior Cycle exams are still scheduled to go ahead as normal but this could change in time.
There will be an increased presence of Gardaí in public parks to ensure social distancing measures are implemented.
The Covid-19 social welfare payment for those who have lost their jobs or are self-employed has increased to €350 per week. The same amount will be paid to those taking sick-leave due to the virus. The Government will also pay 70pc of employee wages up to €410 per week for businesses who are willing to pay the remainder.
Minister for Health Simon Harris also announced patients with Covid-19 will be treated for free as part of a single national service with no public and private hospitals. The state will control private hospitals until the end of the crisis.
The changes come after it became apparent over the weekend that many were still not abiding by the social distancing rules. Large groups of people were seen congregating in public parks and beaches, so much so that some had to be closed.
Opposition parties had been calling for greater restrictions to be put in place with both Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin and Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald appealing for constraint on public gatherings and the closure of non-essential businesses.